Veronica stood outside on the steps of The Abbey on Fifth Avenue in San Diego wearing a strapless floral-embroidered, fuchsia gown. Logan was to meet her here fifteen minutes ago and she was beginning to worry when her phone rang.
"Logan where are you?" She answered without a hello.
"Veronica I am so sorry. I can't make it. I'm stuck here at the base, but I got you a backup date."
"Logan you know I can't come here with just any date. I needed you to get me into the gala." She whined into the phone.
"Don't worry. I enlisted someone who has just as much clout as I would for this thing. He should be there any minute." He assured her.
Veronica watched as the valets received arriving guests. She didn't recognize anyone.
"Logan, who on earth could help me get into the Be a Hero for Children Gala?" Just as she was finishing that sentence Dick Casablancas stepped out of the current black limo at the bottom of the steps. "Oh no, you have got to be kidding me, LOGAN!"
She heard Logan wince on the other line, "Love you Ronica, I'll see you when I get home." and the line went dead.
Dick stepped out of the limo and scanned the staircase in front of him for his date. When he noticed her she looked shocked to see him. He heard her holler Logan's name and saw the phone in her hand. Apparently she just found out he would be escorting her tonight. Logan owed him bigtime for this one. He made his way up the stairs towards her.
"Hey Ronnie. I hear you need an escort for this evening." He decided to remind her she needed him and her tasing him wouldn't be in her best interest.
"I changed my mind, I'll try to get what I need another way. We can go." She said heading back towards the valet. Dick grabbed her wrist to stop her but when she turned and glared at him he let go quickly.
"Come on, Ronnie. We got all dressed up and came all the way here. Let's go in." He followed her. "I'll be on my best behavior, I promise." When she stopped and turned to look up at him he waited as he could see she was considering it.
"Yeah, okay. This would be the easiest way to get what I need." She walked back up the stairs and linked her arm with his. "I just need you to get me in the door. I'll do the rest."
It was two in the morning when Logan let himself into the apartment. He thought about just staying on the base but he felt bad abandoning Veronica when she needed him. He felt worse subjecting her to an evening with Dick without warning. He knew this case was important and the Gala was a one shot deal. After he hung up with Veronica he thought about the history between the two and the premise behind the event. He debated whether it was such a good idea after all. He expected to have messages from both of them when he checked his phone but he only had the one from Veronica telling him she made it home okay.
He tossed his bag by the door, toe'd of his shoes and made his way to the kitchen to get a drink of water. As he stood at the sink he noticed someone on his couch. Logan dumped the rest of his water in the sink, set his glass down and walked around the peninsula. As he approached the back of the couch he recognized Dick face down, one arm tucked into his side against the back of the couch and the other hanging down rested on the floor. He was dressed in a tux and he still had his shoes on. Logan had a sinking feeling he owed Veronica more than he bargained for. Worried about the state he would find her in, he made his way to the bedroom.
They walked into the gala without a hitch as Dick was also on the VIP list of attendees. Veronica shouldn't have been surprised that Dick would have chosen this as one of his charities. Cassidy was a victim of child abuse and he was Dick's little brother. As they entered the grand room a waiter approached. Dick procured them each a glass of champagne and handed one to Veronica.
"So what's the plan?" Dick asked before taking a sip.
Veronica took her time with her first sip. She needed a moment to think. How much did she want to tell him about the case? "Look at your ten o' clock. Do you see the salt-n-pepper haired gentleman in the navy blue tie?" She asked him.
"Charles Cavanough?" She looked at him surprised that he knew who he was.
Veronica cleared her throat, "um yeah. I need to plant a bug on him. Preferably on his watch."
"You can do that?" He asked with a hint of surprise in his voice.
She nodded her head telling him she could, "since you know the man, this should be easy." Veronica finished her drink, looped her arm into his again and pulled him in that direction. "Introduce me?"
"Can do Ronnie." Dick finished his, they placed their glasses on the waiter's tray then he walked her over. "Charles" Dick greeted as he offered his hand.
"Richard, it's good to see you. How have you been?" Mr. Cavanough returned the gesture.
"I'm good, good. I wanted to introduce you to Veronica Mars. She is Logan's significant other. He was stuck at work and didn't want her to miss the opportunity to wear this gorgeous gown. Veronica, this is Charles Cavanough."
Veronica reached out and took his hand in both of hers. She pulled it towards her and shook it. It's nice to meet you Mr. Cavanough." Before letting go she reached for his watch. "Oh wow, your watch is stunning, May I ask?"
"A Cartier." He offered. She released his hand and wrapped her arm around Dick's. "It's a pleasure to meet you Veronica. It's a shame Logan couldn't join you for this event, however he chose a proper placeholder for the evening." Veronica tried to curtail her uneasiness.
"Thank you Charles. Enjoy yourself." Dick led her away from him before he asked her, "Did it work?"
"Game, set, match." She told him, retrieving another glass of champagne as she passed the waiter.
Veronica ascended the stairs to find a table. After a job well done she was ready to eat. When she reached the top of the stairs she took in the stained glass windows that encircled the walls, the dome glass in the ceiling. This was a beautiful venue. She chose a table towards the back wall next to the railing overlooking the floor below. It gave her prime seating to people-watch.
"Ronnie," Dick called to her, she turned to see him standing next to her with his hand on her chair.
"Are you going to sit down?" She asked him. He looked nervous.
"Well, I thought maybe you'd rather sit over there." Her gaze followed in the direction he had motioned. Just on the other side of the balcony was another table mirroring her current location; only the bar was located to the left of it. She looked up at him and saw his sheepish grin. He shrugged. Was Dick Casablancas looking out for her or was he wanting easy access to the open bar? Without a word, she stood up and made her way to the other table. As she sat down he asked her what she wanted from the bar.
"A white russian" she answered as she took in the view of the people below. The round tables were pushed back encasing the dance floor. A video screen was mounted to the wall under the band who had their own private balcony. Dick returned with her drink and sat down across from her. "I watched him make it." He said as he placed the drink in front of her.
She smiled with a nod. "What's the screen for?" she asked him.
Dick glanced in that direction, "Oh, it's for the presentation later. You're not planning to stay that long are you? I figured you would eat your free meal and leave."
"Actually this was supposed to be date night so what I had really planned was making my mark and spending the rest of the evening enjoying my time with Logan." She took a sip of her drink.
"I know I'm most likely the last person you want to spend your evening with so we can leave after we eat." Dick shuffled his glass around on the table, not making eye contact. He had been confident earlier, his usual cocky self but now he's fidgety.
"Something wrong Dick?" Her curiosity got the better of her.
He glanced up at her briefly then returned his attention to his glass in front of him. She didn't think he was going to answer her then he began, "I just…"
"Good evening, I have your first course here for you." The waiter interrupted. "Salmon Mousseline." Veronica sat back to let the waiter place her plate in front of her. Dick picked up his drink and took a long sip leaving the space open for his plate.
"Thank you." They said in unison. Veronica picked up her fork and looked at Dick. He set his glass down and began to eat. Apparently they were done with this conversation before it even started.
Dick moved his dessert plate to the edge of the table and looked at his watch. If he was going to avoid the upcoming situation he needed to get Veronica out of here within the next ten minutes. Unfortunately she has had more than her fair share of drinks and was taking her time savoring every bite of her chocolatey dessert.
"Hey Ronnie, the presentation for this thing isn't the most fun to watch. Their goal is to pull at your heartstrings to get you to donate more money. Why don't we see if they can wrap up that dessert to go?"
"I'm not soft Dick, and I have no intention of making a donation on top of what Logan already gave them. Their little presentation will have no effect on me." She said scooping another bite of chocolate and berries. She closed her eyes as she savored the bite.
"Yeah; I get that, but I don't think you understand. It wasn't the money part I was referring to." Dick tried.
He really didn't want her to be here for this. The Be a Hero for Children's presentation was a collection of images of children of abuse and those that participated were given a chance to tell their stories. Dick had gotten involved with this charity during the beginning stages of therapy. His therapist thought it best he worked through his pain over what happened by participating in the presentation. It started out as just a picture of him with Cassidy. The following year he was able to tell their story. It was a couple of years ago he had brought Logan. It felt good to share this with him and he had been supportive. Logan joined him in donating to the cause but wasn't interested in contributing his story. It was apparent Veronica knew Logan was a contributor to the cause; but didn't know Dick was the intermediary, nor did she know about the presentation. He was prepared to hear the familiar story, Veronica wasn't.
He entwined his hands as he rested his arms on the table in front of him, "Ronnie, we have to go." unable to hide the concern in his voice.
"What's going on Dick? Why don't you want me to be here for the presentation?"
"You know why Logan and I donate to this charity Veronica. The presentation is about kids that were victims of abuse." It's all Dick was able to share before the lights dimmed.
"Good evening everyone. We want to thank all of you for joining us this evening. I'm Kathleen Cady. I am the Co-Founder of the Children's Advocacy Center. It is a pleasure to share with you these stories from courageous men and women impacted by abuse. Without any further ado."
Veronica looked out over the railing of the balcony at the video screen as the woman who had just spoken stepped out of the way. She then looked back to Dick. Unable to make eye contact, he bowed his head between his arms.
Dick had sworn under his breath and got up from the table, straight for the bar ordering another drink. Veronica quickly finished the last bite of her dessert before she headed for the set of stairs. She did not want to be here when they shared their stories. Dick had to down his drink in one shot because she had barely made it down a few steps before he was at her side to escort her out. They made it through the crowd and out the door without a word to each other. In the limo, Dick avoided talking to her by drinking most of the fully stocked bar. They were just outside of Neptune when she heard him apologize.
"What for?" she asked him.
"Everything." he slurred, slouched in the seat fiddling with the stir sticks. "I didn't know Ronnie." She looked at him quizzically as he pulled a stick from the metallic holder. "That I created a monster." He snapped the stick in half, then tossed the pieces on the floor of the limo.
Cassidy, he was talking about Cassidy. He grabbed another and Veronica pulled the stick from his hands. "Dick you didn't create him." She watched him as Dick reached for the half empty bottle of whiskey instead. "He was damaged, sick." She ripped the bottle from his hand and took a swig. "You were just a kid. We all were" She slouched back in the seat next to him and took another drink, "Besides, after everything you have done for Logan…" She wasn't sure how she wanted to finish that sentence so instead she finished the bottle in her hand. When she looked at Dick he was watching her.
"He's my family Ronnie, and so are you. Since the first grade. I'm the annoying piece of shit cousin you have to tolerate at family get-to-gethers, but when one of us really needs the other, we're there." Dick turned, stared out the window, barely a whisper he added, "No matter what."
Dick was right, no matter what has happened in the past, if she was asked, she would help him. When the limo pulled up to her apartment she asked the chauffeur to help her bring Dick inside. They left him face down on the couch and Veronica found his wallet for the tip. She thanked the driver, locked up, and headed off to bed.